Failure Judged Over Time

(This is part of an ongoing series of highlights from past Listen to Life newsletters.  Many readers and subscribers were not following when this came out.  Enjoy.)

He was a 19-year old bomber pilot charged with taking out any Japanese ship he could find.  On a day in 1943, he dropped all nine of his bombs in two attempts to sink an enemy vessel. Nine misses.  A day of failure.  Fifty two years later he learned of his success.  All of our actions must be evaluated over the context of time, not merely the perspective of the moment.

The veteran shared his story in a memoir writing class last week.  Five decades after his failure, he read an interview with the author of the book “A Thousand Cups of Rice.”  The man realized that the story of the American POWs of the Japanese army described, among much other travail, the incident of almost being sunk by an American bomber.  The ship the man tired to sink was full of American soldiers being transported to another locale to perform slave labor for the Japanese.  He met the author and other survivors at a reunion and has remained a friend ever since.

Many of our “mistakes” and “failures” are only so in the moment in which they occur.  The business world is full of entrepreneurs who turn bankruptcy into later success.  The same can be said for other action or decisions in our lives that, in the short term appear miserable, catastrophic or dunderheaded.  Time reveals the correctness of our life’s actions as we grow and learn from experiences along the way of life.

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